Bushfire Factsheet for Wildlife
During bushfires and emergency events WIRES can be inundated with enquires from people wanting to assist wildlife.
Many calls and emails are from people wanting to assist with the rescue of injured wildlife in a direct way. While these offers are appreciated, wildlife rescue and care is complex, especially after fires and we are unable to take untrained volunteers for wildlife care after emergency events. It is necessary for WIRES rescuers and carers to be trained and licensed. Only appropriately trained members are authorised to carry out emergency wildlife rescue and care activities and even they cannot enter the fire grounds until they have been declared safe by the agencies in charge.
We welcome new volunteers and if you are interested in becoming a volunteer with WIRES we encourage you to attend a Rescue and Immediate Care Course so that you can join a local branch and assist with ongoing wildlife rescue and care in the future.
Bushfires and heat stress events unfortunately present an ongoing threat to our wildlife, particularly in the warmer months and when they occur they place additional demands on our limited resources. At all times though, our rescue team and volunteers do their best to provide rescue advice and assistance for all animals as quickly as possible.
The best way to assist our wildlife rescue and care work is by donating to WIRES, as this ensures we can provide the most appropriate help for native animals across the state. Community donations also support our ongoing rescue and care work and enable us to better respond to emergency events as they occur.
It is important to note that no-one should enter active or seemingly dormant fire grounds to rescue wildlife: leave this to trained, licensed wildlife carers who are authorised to work with first responder agencies. It is critical that no-one hinder firefighters or emergency services during this time.
If you are in or near areas impacted by fires, you can assist wildlife as outlined below:
General advice for helping wildlife during bushfires
- Take domestic animals with you if you evacuate or keep cats indoors and dogs under control wherever possible so that wildlife can flee safely through your yard if needed.
- Leave out bowls of water for animals and birds escaping fires, use shallow bowls with a few sticks or stones on one side to allow smaller animals to escape if they fall in.
- Keep a cardboard box, gloves, PPE and a towel in the boot of your car in case you find an injured animal that you can safely contain without putting yourself in any danger.
- If you rescue an animal that has been burnt, do not attempt to feed it, please wrap it loosely, ideally in 100% cotton fabric, place it in a ventilated box with a lid and keep it in a dark, quiet place whilst waiting for a rescuer or for transport to the nearest vet. Water should not be poured from a water bottle above the animal.
- Handling of wild animals should only occur in the course of containing the animal to reduce additional stress. Please keep all animals away from children and pets.
- If you can safely take injured animals to your nearest vet please do so, as injured animals will require urgent vet assessment. If you can please also call WIRES to let us know which vet you’ve taken the animal to so we can follow up with vet to bring the animals into care when they are ready.
- Do not approach injured snakes, flying-foxes, large kangaroos, raptors or monitors as these must be rescued by trained specialists, for these species please call WIRES first for rescue assistance on 1300 094 737.
- If you own a swimming pool and live near where fires are burning there are some simple things you can do to assist wildlife who may be seeking water. Always drape something over the edge of your pool so that animals have a surface to grab hold of and climb out. A length of heavy duty rope or even a bodyboard, secured at one end to something heavy outside the pool, is ideal as it does not absorb water and provides a platform for an exhausted animal to rest on. Pool steps are also frequently too high to allow animals an easy exit and placing bricks or large stones to the side of each step can make it easier for animals to gain a foothold and climb out. Always check your pool regularly (twice daily) including in the skimmer box. If you do find any animal trapped in a pool, call WIRES immediately on 1300 094 737 for advice.
- It is important to note that no-one should enter active or seemingly dormant fire grounds to rescue wildlife: leave this to trained, licensed wildlife carers who are authorised to work with first responder agencies. It is critical that no-one hinder firefighters or emergency services during this time.
Please remember WIRES is a registered charity and we rely on the generosity of the public to continue our rescue and care services. Gifts $2 and over are tax- deductible and you can donate online at any time, making a single donation or monthly donation to become one of our Virtual Carers. Every gift makes a significant difference and we are extremely grateful for the community's ongoing support of our work with wildlife.